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Relocating with children – a guide for separated parents

Published: 25 March 2022
Time to read: 3 mins

Many of us made changes to our living arrangements during the Covid pandemic and some may be considering a permanent move abroad as the world begins to open up again.

You may wish to be closer to friends or family, or are moving for a new job opportunity or to live with a new partner, or perhaps you just want a ‘fresh start’. If you plan to move with your child, without their other parent, it is important to consider whether you will need the other parent’s consent to take them with you.

The starting point is whether your child’s other parent has “parental rights and responsibilities” (PRRs). If they do, then you must get their consent to any move and you should get this in writing, to avoid any issues further down the line. There may be other areas that you will need to reach agreement on before you leave, such as how often and where they will see and spend time with your child and the logistics and costs involved with these arrangements.

If the child’s other parent refuses to give their consent to the move, you could try reaching agreement using mediation or with the help of solicitors. If agreement cannot be reached following the involvement of solicitors or a mediation process, then you will need to make an application to the court for permission to take your child with you. As with all decisions about children, the main consideration for the court will be what is in your child’s best interests – is it better for them to move  with you or to remain where they are? The court will consider a number of factors, such as how any relationship will be maintained between your child and their other parent or wider family, the financial implications of maintaining these arrangements, and what your plans are in the new country such as where you will live, where you will work and where your child will go to school. Your child will also be given the opportunity to express their own views about what they would like to happen, if  appropriate.

It is important to remember that if you press on with the move without obtaining the other parent’s consent, or in the knowledge that they did not give consent, the other parent could raise a court action asking the court to order the child’s return.

If you find yourself in a situation where your child’s other parent may be planning a move without your consent, then you can raise a court action to prevent them from taking your child out of the country.

There is often no easy “middle ground” in cases where one parent thinks it is better for their child to move and the other parent does not. Court applications can take time and  it is therefore important that advice is taken from a family lawyer at the earliest opportunity before any proposed move.

If you are considering a move abroad with your children and are separated, please get in touch with our family law team here.

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